Garrick S3: Experience Begets Improvement
Growth is the natural result of practice, experience, and persistence. Some people actively avoid growth as it usually requires increasingly more effort every day, whereas by doing the same thing without improving, the act itself becomes automatic, easier. And many, if not most, people prefer easier.
But perfectionists don’t like easier, they like best. And best comes at a cost. That cost could be extra hours redoing the same work over and over; slowly making incremental improvements; or possibly learning new skills to completely change how something is done, knowing that the result will be a higher level of success. Yet others aim for perfection by constantly evaluating their own work against an imaginary ideal and are perpetually trying to eliminate minor flaws that only they can see.
I’ve made a lot of stuff in my time, things that have won awards, things that people are impressed by, and things that other makers respect (a rather high honor), yet I have never been fully satisfied with a single thing I have made. There is always something to improve upon, something I could have spent more time on, or something I botched so badly that I covered it up and know the mistake is hidden under filler/paint/component.
But this is also why I have improved my skills over the years. And why I appreciate watchmaking so much: I know the difficulty of creating such things. This is especially true of the smaller independent brands who put a lot of effort into hand fabrication and finishing, yet may not have the means (or related price point) to strive for apparent perfection (like, say, the sorcerers at Greubel Forsey). It is incredibly satisfying to watch brands improve over time, moving from what are already impressive pieces to even more fantastic pieces showing the brand’s growth.
This brings me to Garrick and its newest watch, the S3, a perfect reference point for growth. Thee S3 is not only a great example of the unique style of the boutique brand, but as an evolution from the S1 and S2 it highlights the brand’s growth as it pursues better and better creations.
Garrick S3 in comparison to the S1
The original caliber UT-G01 in the Portsmouth has morphed within the S3 into the UT-G04, and even to the untrained eye it is clear that there have been some serious changes. But the movement isn’t the only change: the aesthetic has clearly evolved and from the S1, and the latest example showcases a slowly expanding complexity available to the brand and what it creates.
The S1 is an open-dialed watch, exposing the movement and power reserve mechanism and focusing on minimal dial elements to get the point across. The components within have a clear, handmade quality that highlight the brand’s focus on traditional skills. The S3 continues this trend, but shifts the style, updates the movement architecture, and improves sharply on part quality and finishing.
Firstly, the S1 had three individual chapter rings to indicate the hours and minutes, the subsidiary seconds, and the power reserve, all separate and rather minimal with simple dots and bars for demarcation.
The S3 combines all the chapter rings into one component. From this description, it sounds like a small change. But the new chapter rings are not simple brushed rings, but rather a complex skeletonized railroad track-style chapter ring with Roman numerals and tiny outer rectangular piercings that must have been either chemically etched or cut with EDM (electrical discharge machining) to achieve such tiny, perfectly square internal corners.
The main plate of the movement is also significantly different with the redesigned caliber sinking the power reserve mechanism below the surface, which also necessitates a new bridge for the minute wheel and part of the power reserve mechanism, now combined into one.
The loss of two cocks for the power reserve mechanism helps maintain flatness across the top surface of the caliber and slimness overall. But outside of some other bridge shapes changing, it would seem that the largest change has occurred in the dial elements alone.
Garrick S3: growth in technique
But only to notice that change would be to gloss over a majority of the technical improvements and growth in skills that are on display, not to mention a shift in watchmaking aesthetic that strives to improve the piece as a whole.
The first thing that stood out to me was the dramatic increase in the use of flat polishing, a difficult and tedious process that often risks the components themselves because the artisan may need too many passes to achieve a perfect surface. Too many passes can reduce the thickness of the component, and if the finished polish isn’t achieved quickly enough it can reduce part thickness beyond tolerances, essentially destroying it. This usually isn’t an issue for people skilled in the technique, but it does increase risk during finishing.
Very few parts on the S1 were flat polished (mostly just screws), most displaying a variation of a brushed finish. On the S3, a majority of the components are flat polished, from wheels to the bridges, levers, and balance bridge. This shows a significant uptick in the care given to finishing and a higher level of precision than the original pieces. This precision and care extend beyond just a polished surface: it extends to the crispness of corners, bevels, and all shapes found throughout the movement.
This is a more subtle change, but when you look at the assembly of parts it is clear that they are made more exactly, giving the appearance of a much higher level movement. To return to Greubel Forsey for a moment, one of the things that makes that brand’s watches so coveted is that quest for perfection takes them to ever higher levels.
For many watchmakers, the accepted mantra is that if it looks “perfect” under 10X magnification the part looks perfect. But at 20X magnification, you start to see minor flaws, irregularities to smoothness, or even wiggles in the corners of bevels. These are very tiny but they can add up, and Greubel Forsey pieces often eliminate these due to the sheer skill in finishing.
These improvements are a delineator between something that comes from the likes of Patek Philippe or Jaeger-LeCoultre and from an exacting boutique brand like Greubel Forsey. There is just a quality about it, even if the imperfections are minuscule; it’s clear that their finishes are on different levels, as are their prices.
This is what I am noticing from Garrick with Caliber UT-G04 in the S3. With the reduction in use of linear or radial brushing, and a switch to more flat-polished components, there is a noticeable uptick in the perceived level of finishing and therefore the precision of the parts. Garrick has considered proportions that create a more cohesive feel to the components, and the step away from the more traditional gold-with-blued-screws style familiar to British watchmaking adds to this effect.
Looking to the jewels, it appears many of the them have grown in diameter, while the chatons housing them have become thinner and fit much more precisely into the plates. The chatons are flat polished instead of simply polished, providing a much more consistent surface. On the rear of the watch we see subtle shift in finishing that I think plays a big role in making the movement feel even higher end.
The winding wheels on the S1 previously had circular brushing, snailed brushing, and polished teeth, which lent a clear traditional handmade watch feel. High quality for sure, but it was still definitely reaching toward the past. The new S3 has flat-polished rims to the wheels with matte-finished centers (usually achieved via very delicate hand abrasion with diamond powder), akin to what can be found on pieces from Akrivia, lending a clear modern feel to the movement.
Combining these details with a rhodium-plated movement (versus gold) and the improvements are even more obvious. This is why I am digging the new S3 and the direction the brand decided to take it, since it provides an alternative to its own very traditional style with a modern twist. Still, the movement construction is very traditionally based, especially looking at the old-school escape lever cock and bottom balance cock present ever since the original UT-G01.
It’s the combination of traditional British watchmaking – a core principle of Garrick – and the desire to keep growing and improving in what it does. There is a reason we have seen four iterations to the caliber over the past four years: constant improvement in technique and skill.
While the S3’s new dial elements in blued steel clearly show a dramatic departure in aesthetics from the S1 and in evolution from the S2 (which first saw the Roman numeral chapter ring addition), for me the more impressive development is the attention paid to the caliber.
I am always more interested in the movement, so to see the effort put into growth over the past few years indicates to me that Garrick is committed to creating some incredible pieces. If constant improvement on all that the brand does continues in the theme of the S3, Garrick will become a force to be reckoned with as a mainstay of modern British watchmaking.
Given that, a breakdown is definitely in order!
- Wowza Factor * 9.1 Exposed mechanics that show improvement from the brand origins are always a big wow for me!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 88.4» 866.908m/s2 Enough lust to keep you pining away while Garrick improves the caliber yet again!
- M.G.R. * 61.4 A movement originally developed in tandem with UhrTeil AG and completed with a lot of traditional techniques? Yes please!
- Added-Functionitis * Minor A power reserve is still the most useful complication to add to a manual-wind watch, and as such, requires children’s strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for the minor but crucial swelling.
- Ouch Outline * 9.6 Mistakenly standing up while still under the edge of the roof of your car! Many may not know this pain but having a micro car has its quirks. Sometimes when I’m in a hurry I stand up just a few inches to early and smash my head against the roof of my tiny car. It smarts pretty bad, but I’d gladly do it every day if it meant getting the Garrick S3 on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * That finishing! Seeing a watch brand grow and improve, and seeing the results in the caliber, can make you fall head over heels faster than you can say, “I was thinking about a destination ceremony . . . !”
- Awesome Total * 762 Take the alloy number of the case metal (904) and subtract the water resistance in meters (100), then subtract the diameter of the case in millimeters (42) and you’ll get a nicely improved awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.garrick.co.uk/product/s3-timepiece.
Quick Facts Garrick S3
Case: 42 x 10 mm, 904L stainless steel or 18-karat gold
Movement: manual-wind Caliber UT-G04 with free-sprung balance in Sircumet, 45-hour power reserve, hand-frosted finish
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; power reserve
Limitation: 5 pieces per year
Price: £24,160 (+VAT) in steel and £32,160 (+VAT) in gold